Spitfires focused on the future following playoff elimination

Cody Wall
By Cody Wall April 6, 2018 11:30

By Cody Wall

Despite the Windsor Spitfires being eliminated from the playoffs, the coaching staff hopes their young team can grow.

On April 1 the Windsor Spitfires were eliminated following a six-game series with the Sarnia Sting in the first round of the 2017-18 Ontario Hockey League playoffs.

Heading into the series the Spitfires were seen as underdogs facing the fifth best team in the OHL. The Spitfires were focused on stocking up on draft picks and young players after trading several key pieces of their Memorial Cup winning team including team captain and leading scorer Aaron Luchuk.

The Spitfires got off to a good start winning game one 6-2 in Sarnia before losing game two 4-1 and dropped the third game in heartbreaking fashion by giving up three goals in the final four minutes of the game losing 5-3.

Following game three, Spitfires Head Coach Trevor Letowski, made it clear that he was happy with the way the team was competing.

“I’m certainly not disappointed with the team, that’s for sure, we gave everything we had,” said Letowski.

One of the biggest stories within the series was the performance of Michael Dipietro posting a .934 save percentage through the six games. DiPietro would be named the first star of the game twice throughout the series including in the Spitfires 3-1 win in game four where he made 46 saves.

When Dipietro’s teammates were asked about his play after the game they all gave him praise and talked about how he is a leader on the team including Spitfires’ Chris Playfair who scored the game-winning goal in game four.

“He’s standing on his head right now, it’s unbelievable the things he’s doing,” said Playfair.

The Spitfires would go on to lose game five and six and be eliminated from the postseason. Following game six Letowski would comment on how he believed his team was capable of winning the series and how he would talk to his players the following day as emotions were high.

“There was a belief that we could win,” said Letowski. “We had a quick little meeting and Warren said a little bit and tomorrow well get together as a team and I’ll kind of share my thoughts.”

The Spitfires will now turn their focus to the offseason and upcoming OHL priority selection draft on April 7. Windsor has 13 picks in this year’s draft and aiming to pick up some quality players after this year’s turnover. There are also several players currently on the Spitfires hoping to hear their name called this summer at the NHL entry draft including Curtis Douglas, 17, and Connor Corcoran, 17.

Heading into next season the Spitfires hope several players such as Cody Morgan, Daniel D’Aimco and Grayson Ladd who turned 17 in the second half of the season take steps forward in their development. Letowski is also hoping the young Spitfires’ core can use the experience they gain from this playoff series and build upon it.

“It’s valuable those games are hard, and they see how hard it is,” said Letowski. “This is just the first round it’s going to get harder and those guys are playing important minutes against big, strong players.”

Michael Dipietro, who has been nominated for the Outstanding Goalie of the Year and Outstanding Player of the Year awards, will likely be returning to the Spitfires. If he is unable to crack the Vancouver Canuck roster he will be forced to return to the OHL.

“Here comes a new wave of not only young players but very good young talent,” said Dipietro. “The next wave of kids coming through here are going to be the next core of the Windsor Spitfires organization.”

Windsor Spitfires players saluting the crowd following game four (Photo by Jordan Ferris)

Cody Wall
By Cody Wall April 6, 2018 11:30

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